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We Are Okay

Review

We Are Okay

There are holes in Marin’s life. Her mother died when she was three and her father was nonexistent. Her grandmother was gone, too, but it was always okay because Marin and her grandfather were able to cohabitate just fine. That is, along as she doesn’t go in his side of the house and he doesn’t go in hers. Marin has her best friend, Mabel, too, though they might be becoming more than friends --- at least, that’s how it was before. Now, she’s holed up in her New York dormitory on winter break, waiting for Mabel, who she hasn’t spoken to in months, to visit. No one knows what happened to Marin during the past few months, and she’s not talking. But Mabel has three days with her before she has to fly back home, and if she wants to help Marin, she has to work fast.

"In all of her books, LaCour successfully portrays different types of families and relationships that aren’t usually seen in the young adult book world, and WE ARE OKAY follows suit."

I first became enticed with Nina LaCour’s work in the fall of 2014, when I read EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU, one of my favorite books of all time. I then read HOLD STILL and THE DISENCHANTMENTS, both also fantastic. LaCour has this ability to take parts of life that we all go through but ignore, and dissect the meaning of the events while making the story hauntingly beautiful. Last year, she published YOU KNOW ME WELL, co-authored with David Levithan, to a trail of praise. Unfortunately, her latest novel, WE ARE OKAY, didn’t charm me the same way that her other novels have.

In itself, the story was beautiful. LaCour used one of my favorite story formats by splitting chapters between the past and present. It was both fun and heartbreaking to see how events from the past directly affected the events of the future, as well as connecting Marin’s timeline. In all of her books, LaCour successfully portrays different types of families and relationships that aren’t usually seen in the young adult book world, and WE ARE OKAY follows suit. Marin is raised by her grandfather and Mabel’s family, who are Hispanic and teach her a lot about their Spanish culture. The book also discusses Marin’s exploration of her sexuality, and recognizing her current relationship with Mabel.

The aspect that was really missing for me was the characters. I went into WE ARE OKAY without knowing the plot, reading it purely on the basis that Nina LaCour wrote it. So, when I was reading from Marin’s point of view that a character called Mabel was coming to visit her, I honestly thought she was Marin’s mom. There was a total lack of character information for Mabel, and, really, for all of the characters. The person I knew the most about was probably Marin’s grandfather, who was supposed to be the most mysterious one. I also felt that Marin went through absolutely no character development. Yes, a lot of things happened to her in those three days, but the events were mostly due to other character’s actions, not her own. From start to end, she was the exact same person.

I don’t know how to explain this, but I also didn’t feel like I got anything from this book. I’m not saying that every book should have a really impactful message that should live with the reader forever, but the reader should remember something about the book. I don’t remember anything particularly interesting about the book, regardless of the set up for a beautiful story.

Regardless of whether or not I loved WE ARE OKAY, I will always be a fan of Nina LaCour, and recommend her to everyone. Who knows, my favorite Nina LaCour book may be your least favorite Nina LaCour book, and you may love WE ARE OKAY. Give it a shot!

Reviewed by Reanna H., Teen Board Member on April 17, 2017

We Are Okay
by Nina LaCour